Misdelivered dialogue

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Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Citizen K » Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:54 pm UTC

This is a little ranty, but I'm wondering if anyone here shares this particular peeve.

Nothing, and I mean nothing breaks my ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy a movie or TV show like actors misdelivering dialog. Nothing says "I'm reading words off a page and have no idea what I'm saying" like putting emphasis on the wrong words in a sentence. People speaking their own words will vary the pitch, tone, etc. across a sentence or paragraph in a natural way, which is consistent with whatever they're saying and reinforces the message. I mean it's just lazy to screw that up. In Hollywood, they tend to re-dub the entire movie later, and nobody along that process ever notices this? Please.

Case in point: The Matrix. Remember the scene where Neo surprises Cipher right before his steak-eating meeting, and they share some nice hooch? Neo asks, "do you always look at [the Matrix] in code?" The response, emphasized as delivered: "the image translators work for the Construct program, but there's way too much information to decode the Matrix." There's a huge parity error every time I hear that, and it makes me cringe. "For" is not the central idea there, and wouldn't be emphasized. The implication of the delivery is that the image translators work for the Construct program, instead of... against it? That is nonsensical. The most important structure of the sentence is a contrast between the Construct and the Matrix, and anyone really saying that sentence would put the emphasis there. The response, as it should have been delivered: "the image translators work for the Construct program, but there's way too much information to decode the Matrix."

I know it's a small point, but like I said, the mismatch is the sort of parity error my brain just can't ignore.

Another major offender: Dax McBoobs on Deep Space Nine. I swear, at least once an episode she did this, especially in the first couple seasons, and I hate it. Especially when it's in a sentence that doesn't even involve technobabble.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:13 pm UTC

Um, I emphasis the 'wrong' words all the time. The fact that characters never falter or otherwise misspeak is what makes it difficult for me to swallow.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:35 pm UTC

Seeing as I'm used to seeing shows with subtitles (to Hebrew or English), what bugs me a lot more is when I know something was translated wrongly. The most horrible example I can think of is when, in Spaceballs, when they moved to light speed, they translated it as if "light" meant "not heavy". But there are lots of different examples. Especially with movie names ("Reservation Road" was translated to "Unreserved Road" which is basically, the exact opposite).
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Citizen K » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:35 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:The fact that characters never falter or otherwise misspeak is what makes it difficult for me to swallow.

Fair enough, but in real life if someone makes a confusing enough mistake, there's a moment of "huh?" on the part of the listener. Possibly followed by commentary, corrections, or wisecracks regarding the mistake from either party. You never see any of that either, and I think that's what bothers me; the on-screen dialog plows ahead while the audience is going :?, and presumably somebody on-screen ought to be too.

Zohar wrote:what bugs me a lot more is when I know something was translated wrongly.

Very understandable. Though I do tend to expect less out of translations than things written and performed in the same language. And since I only really speak one language, I don't so much have the problem of knowing how something should be translated. Ignorance is bliss :)
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Nath » Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:10 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Seeing as I'm used to seeing shows with subtitles (to Hebrew or English), what bugs me a lot more is when I know something was translated wrongly. The most horrible example I can think of is when, in Spaceballs, when they moved to light speed, they translated it as if "light" meant "not heavy". But there are lots of different examples. Especially with movie names ("Reservation Road" was translated to "Unreserved Road" which is basically, the exact opposite).

Have you ever seen the Chinese-ified English-subtitled version of Akira Kurosawa's 'Sanshiro Sugata'? In a movie about judo, judo was translated as 'karate'. The title character's name was translated as 'Chee' (and apparently sometimes as 'Sam').

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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:48 pm UTC

OK, I must agree that Asian pirate subs are so bad they're good. But still, it bugs me when I can see myself doing a better job translating than people whose job it's supposed to be.

As for the no mistakes while speaking issue, this reminds me of the episode on the 7th season of West Wing where they did a live debate. That was very cool, and also (maybe because it was live?) they sounded very real. There are some shows where the characters don't always speak perfectly and comprehensibly, though none come to mind at this very moment.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Bakemaster » Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:50 pm UTC

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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Belial » Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:19 pm UTC

Zohar wrote: There are some shows where the characters don't always speak perfectly and comprehensibly, though none come to mind at this very moment.


Simon: Are you alliance?
Jubal: "Am I a lion"?
Simon: What?
Jubal: I don't think of myself as a lion. You might as well, though, I do have a mighty roar.
Simon: I said "Alliance"
Jubal: Oh, I thought.....
Simon: No, I was....
Jubal: That's weird.

Not really so much a misspeech as a non-plot-crucial mishearing, but those are equally rare. No one ever mishears things or misspeaks in TV and movies unless it somehow furthers the plot or sets up a joke.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Mother Superior » Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:18 am UTC

I agree with that Matrix-example. Always bugged me. But I can take this moment to share my most horrible experience of bad subtitles ever, from the Futurama episode "Where no fan has gone before":

Original:
"Melllvar's got a space ship!"
"Yes, in mint condition, and you made me take it out of the package!"

Swedish subtitles:
"Melllvar's got a space ship!"
"Yes in mint flavour, and you made me take it out of the package!"

This is so horrible because there is no word that can be mis-translated, the word "condition" doesn't sounds anything like the swedish for "flavour", whoever translated this simply has never heard that term before so he took a wild stab in the dark, not at any point concerned with the fact that it didn't make even one iota of sense.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby yellie » Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:11 am UTC

Belial wrote:No one ever mishears things or misspeaks in TV and movies unless it somehow furthers the plot or sets up a joke.


The Wind That Shakes The Barley did! :D There are a few scenes where the characters fumble their words or stutter during speeches and stuff. Whether it was intentional or just the actor messing up, it made it all a lot more realistic.

And if we're talking bad subtitles, I think Star War III: Backstroke of the West needs to be linked to.

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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Rodan » Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:19 am UTC

mostly off topic:
hey, is dialog misspelled? I know it as dialogue. I assume this is another one of those Silly British things.
(or rather, American things, since I suppose Britain came first)

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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Narsil » Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:35 am UTC

Yes, but we won the Revolutionary War.

Grammar & spelling rights granted.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby xenuphobia » Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:49 am UTC

Weird, the only way I ever spelled it was dialogue, and I've never left the US.

I'm just English at heart, I guess.
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:40 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Not really so much a misspeech as the best part of Objects in Space, and possibly the whole series, and possibly any series, ever

fix'd
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Citizen K » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:20 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:"This Just In: Poor Acting, Directing Found Ungood"

Touché.
Rodan wrote:hey, is dialog misspelled? I know it as dialogue.

Yeah, I did give that a moment's thought when I was typing it. My first instinct was the British version, but I decided against it.

I agree that when misspeaking is intentionally put there by writers, actors or, directors, it can be a good thing. Hooray for Firefly. It's the glaring screwups that irk me.
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby no-genius » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:09 am UTC

But how do you know the Matrix example was unintentional? Maybe Cypher doesn't understand how it works? :?
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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby william » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:37 am UTC

xenuphobia wrote:Weird, the only way I ever spelled it was dialogue, and I've never left the US.

I'm just English at heart, I guess.

Actually it's just that dialog is actually a completely different word from dialogue no matter where you live.
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Joeldi » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:43 pm UTC

How so? I've always used dialogue for all possible meaning I can think of.
I already have a hate thread. Necromancy > redundancy here, so post there.

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby no-genius » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:54 pm UTC

teh wiki wrote:A dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog[1]) is a reciprocal conversation between two or more entities.
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The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Why? It does nothing to address dance music's core problem: the fact that it sucks.

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Re: Misdelivered dialog

Postby EvanED » Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:52 am UTC

william wrote:
xenuphobia wrote:Weird, the only way I ever spelled it was dialogue, and I've never left the US.

I'm just English at heart, I guess.

Actually it's just that dialog is actually a completely different word from dialogue no matter where you live.

Interesting that the American Heritage Dictionary and Merriam-Webster both disagree. :roll:

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby no-genius » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:55 pm UTC

Interesting that those are both American dictionaries, no?
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:34 pm UTC

Wow, regional variation in language? Who knew? We should make a subforum or something.
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby no-genius » Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:19 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:Wow, international variation in language? Who knew? We should make a subforum or something.

fix'd
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The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Why? It does nothing to address dance music's core problem: the fact that it sucks.

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Sprocket » Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:33 pm UTC

Citizen K wrote:This is a little ranty, but I'm wondering if anyone here shares this particular peeve.

Nothing, and I mean nothing breaks my ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy a movie or TV show like actors misdelivering dialog. Nothing says "I'm reading words off a page and have no idea what I'm saying" like putting emphasis on the wrong words in a sentence. People speaking their own words will vary the pitch, tone, etc. across a sentence or paragraph in a natural way, which is consistent with whatever they're saying and reinforces the message. I mean it's just lazy to screw that up. In Hollywood, they tend to re-dub the entire movie later, and nobody along that process ever notices this? Please.

Oh hell yes. And the sad part is that it's bad directing here that's the problem. If your actors aren't emphasizing the dialogue properly you have to tell them. If Christopher Walken is changing the meaning of my sentence by being too free-stylin' Walken with it, I will tell him - "Christopher, that word...you're sayin' it...all wrong...it's gatta be down played...a bit..not emphasized...as you...are doing."

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Um, I emphasis the 'wrong' words all the time. The fact that characters never falter or otherwise misspeak is what makes it difficult for me to swallow.
There's a difference between a stumble and a miscalculation and straight up not giving words the FEELING that you intend to give them. Some people put emphasis in the wrong places, but MOST people don't really have this problem very often, because the emphasis tends to be sort of an almost emotional response. DSkippy tends to talk like every thing he's saying is "and this ONE time at BAND camp.." That's a personality thing, and if your character has it, it's there and it's consistent. Otherwise, it's not.

Zohar wrote:OK, I must agree that Asian pirate subs are so bad they're good. But still, it bugs me when I can see myself doing a better job translating than people whose job it's supposed to be.


I'm sorry this just made me think of movies that are about Asian Pirate Submarines. and I thought, HOW could that be BAD!?
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:46 pm UTC

no-genius wrote:
Bakemaster wrote:Wow, international variation in language? Who knew? We should make a subforum or something.

fix'd

Wow, nations don't count as regions any more? Who knew?
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:50 pm UTC

That's international variation for you.
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby no-genius » Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:17 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:Wow, nations don't count as regions any more? Who knew?

Silly bakey. it goes Region<Nation<Continent<THE WORLD<America !

Or, england is no longer a region of america? Who knew?

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The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Why? It does nothing to address dance music's core problem: the fact that it sucks.

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:51 pm UTC

/me invokes capitalization and wins by TKO
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby mosc » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:57 pm UTC

how could one... DO... a Christopher Walken imperson-A-tion withOUT misdelivering the DIAlogue?
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby william » Sat Dec 08, 2007 5:50 am UTC

Joeldi wrote:How so? I've always used dialogue for all possible meaning I can think of.

Dialog box is not dialogue box no matter what
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby no-genius » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:/me invokes capitalization and wins by TKO

you fail at spelling
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The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Why? It does nothing to address dance music's core problem: the fact that it sucks.

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:43 pm UTC

Away with you, tiresome Englishman, with your fear of zed!
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:49 pm UTC

mosc wrote:how could one... DO... a Christopher Walken imperson-A-tion withOUT misdelivering the DIAlogue?

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby dyzzy » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:55 pm UTC

And let's not forget Shatner's take on "The Real Slim Shady."
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby mosc » Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:40 pm UTC

yeah, Shatner's another prime candidate for purposely messing up the dialog.
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:01 am UTC

Well, yeah, Shatner followed Walken during Keanau's Breakfast Sausage commercial.

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Bakemaster » Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:06 am UTC

"Hi, I'm Keanu Reeves. I've beaten the world of acting. And now I'm going to beat the world... of breakfast sausage."
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:14 am UTC

Oh, hello! I didn't see you... there. I always start the day, with Keanau's sausage.... in my mouth!

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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby mosc » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:08 pm UTC

the only possible reply to that is

"Guess What? I got a FEVER! And the only prescription is..."
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Re: Misdelivered dialogue

Postby EricH » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:17 pm UTC

More COWBELL!

It's a little bit of a tangent, but I saw "The Year Without A Santa Claus" the other night, and had the same problem with misdelivered dialog--twice in as many minutes, actually.

Mother Nature speaks to her sons, points at Heat Miser, and says "You, allow a balmy day at the North Pole," points at Cold Miser, and says "and You, let it snow in Southtown." Thus managing to sternly command each one to do the thing he wanted to do anyway, instead of the intended meaning--compromise, stop standing in your brother's way.

And soon after, the narrator starts talking about "Kids from all over the world: East," as we see a young man in a full cowboy outfit, "West," as we see an Asian girl in a kimono, "North, and South." Which I actually didn't see, as I was already blinking in confusion, but I think there might have been an Eskimo in there....
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